Let us go out to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.”
I hate having my picture taken. Maybe its the pounds (the camera adds ten, you know). Maybe the wheelchair is too, well…too. Perhaps it’s the contrast between me and just about anybody else in the photo. Pull out a camera at a party and I’m either looking for a place to hide or pretending its not there. I’ll bet if I don’t look at it, it won’t look at me. All kidding aside (was I?), there is one photograph I’m angling for. I’m living in such a way as to be captured in God’s lens and placed in His portfolio under the heading of “Kingdom Man.”
The fellowship of saints I have been called to pastor is considering together what we would look like as Kingdom People, as those living “outside the camp.” Think of it: an entire modern-day western church, going outside the camp. Together. At the risk of over dramatization, this Word has been akin to thunder on the summit of Sinai for us and the blow from a shofar, rallying us to mobilize and ready ourselves for something quite unlike anything we have ever known.
In the message of this past Sunday (click here), I said whatever is out there, outside the camp, it involves dying. It involves laying down our lives. It looks like humility, not false piety. It means putting aside and walking away from. It involves separation. Hardship. Loneliness. Mourning and grieving. It can mean martyrdom. Then I paused and looked over the flock and said, “Who wants to go?” Despite the truthfulness of truth and intentional lack of “sweet by and by,” many hands went skyward.
Having considered this “outside the camp” metaphor for a few weeks now, we are getting a clearer picture of what it entails. But let me stop here for a moment. The picture we see coming into focus is just that. A picture. It is like we are looking in someone else’s photo album and we are not actually in any of the photographs. It’s our desire to not just look at glossies and wonder but to one day see ourselves in them as a people fully vested in the “Sermon on the Mount” lifestyle.
Perhaps we might look a lot like these guys…
A COMMUNITY OF THE BROKEN
“The mission organization Word Made Flesh is unusual in several respects. Founded 15 years ago, it is a young movement, with nearly all its 200 staff and volunteers well under 35 years old. Focused on serving Christ among the poorest of the poor, its staff are notable for the degree to which they move into the urban slums, red-light districts, and refugee camps where they are called to serve. They also work together in small intentional communities, a model that looks back to monasticism and forward to the quest for richer expressions of Christian community. Here, Word Made Flesh’s international executive director, Chris Heuertz, responds to our big question about global mission for 2007: What must we learn, and unlearn, to be agents of God’s mission in the world?
An essential Christian conviction is that the church is the community that anticipates and seeks to express the kingdom of God. To explain the healthy functioning of the church, the apostle Paul twice turned to the metaphor of a human body, equipped with many different parts, that working together could live out the life of its risen Lord, the head of the body, in a broken world.
But the body of Christ, far from being a healthy, functioning body with the capacity to respond to the needs of the world, is more like a child who is missing a limb. We are fragmented, divided, and ineffective at even simple tasks…
…Our community can be found in the sewers of Eastern Europe meeting with children living on the streets, with former child soldiers in the refugee camps of West Africa, among victims of sex trafficking and children with aids throughout Asia, and in the shanty-towns and favelas of South America.
It’s often observed that there is among my generation a crisis in the theology and practice of mission. For many Christians today, mission can seem to be little more than sanctified tourism. Raised as opportunistic individuals, we bounce from one short-term experience to the next. We keep our options open and avoid committing to any one organization or set of relationships—so much so that many of us would rather work 20 hours a week pouring coffee than give our lives to helping secure safe drinking water for others.
The challenge for WMF is working with those who are intelligent yet doctrinally confused, lonely yet community-resistant, cause-driven yet commitment-averse, idealistic yet cynical, magnanimous yet suspicious, and, not least, over-educated yet deep in debt—and challenging them to establish community with and among the oppressed of the world.”
See the entire Christianity Today article by Christopher Heuertz here:
The call is to go outside the “camp,” forsaking all that Christ longs to loose us from. There isn’t going to be much in the way of paparazzi out there but the Lord will have some great family pics for His own album!
I mean to be in one.